Rewind 15 Years, Give Or Take
Everyone deals with things differently. As a teenager, I dealt with hurt and disappointments with anger. At fourteen or fifteen I was hired for my first job, and it was a good one. I probably should have stuck with it. But, eventually I applied for a waitressing position at a local Chinese food restaurant. I really loved that job… what I loved best about it was the menu, not gonna lie. Yum.
At first I was told I would only have to work one Sunday a month… but it ended up being the exact opposite. As in, only one Sunday a month off. I didn’t really care at the time, however, since I didn’t really care to go to church at the time.
My parents have been in the ministry all my life. But when I was in grade ten, my dad resigned from the church he was pastoring and took a position assisting his former assistant/youth pastor. Pretty cool. He’s been doing that now for almost fifteen years.
So back to fifteen year old me. This was a time when I let my standards go in terms of movie watching and music listening. I remember a specific movie I watched at a friend’s house – doesn’t matter what it was called, but it was a horror movie – I only watched for about 20 minutes. At the time I had a bedroom in the basement, all by myself…
What is it about basements after watching scary movies? Ohya, it’s the basement. And the scary movie. Right.
For about 2 – 3 weeks after that dumb movie I slept at night with the light on and/or my mom next me until I fell asleep, and I had to have praise and worship music on the whole night. This was at a time when in my heart of hearts I knew I wasn’t serving the Lord. And I wasn’t listen to Christian music much, at least not during the day…
Oh, I believed in God. I loved Him even. I had just played a part in Heaven’s Gates and Hells Flames in grade 9 (ish), I had been a dedicated church goer, youth group was my second home, but hurts and offence took root in me. I won’t put all the details out there, but I ended up loosing almost all my school friends at the time because I was done with crudeness, degrading talk – and actions – toward women from boys in the school. Some might interpret that time differently, and they can write about that in their own blog if they’d like. See it had become a common thing for some of the boys to say and do crude things with girls at the butt of the joke. I wasn’t the only one, but I had enough. However I ended up with some pretty awesome friends after that.
I know it’s worse today in the schools. We need to support and pray for our children and youth.
There were a few other things that caused hurts at that time, but the causes don’t really matter. The point is that I was a mid-teen, I was hurting, angry, and my friends probably didn’t even know it. But my mom and dad knew, and they prayed me through.
The Importance of the Presence of God in Our Homes
I remember believing lies of the enemy that were spoken through an individual while on a youth retreat, words spoken about my own character, and the moment I walked into my home I knew they were all lies.
Because of the presence of God.
Because my mom kept praise and worship going, at that time, literally 24/7.
Because my mom and dad prayed for me. And they always had an open door policy.
I put them through a lot in that time (sorry mom and dad), I remember having most of the youth group over for a movie, it might have been New Years Eve. You know what movie I chose? The Eraser. Nice one. I googled for fun just now, this movie has the F word 10 times in it. So here I was, the preachers daughter entertaining most of the youth group (unofficially, of course, the youth pastors weren’t there) and putting a movie on that most of them weren’t allowed to watch (one girl said that to my mom on the way out… for the record, I wasn’t allowed to watch that kind of movie either).
So it was a fun week after that… I had to ask forgiveness from everyone that had been at our house that night. And I was only allowed to rent movies from the library for a long time (that library basically only had Abbot and Costello and musicals like the Sound of Music… which I happen to love).
I’m glad my parents did that. I’m glad they made me take responsibility for my actions. I probably didn’t feel that way at the time though.
So when we moved east this is sort of where I was at. I was listening to music that was far from glorifying to God. I was watching movies (after the grounding period was over) that were slowly desensitizing me. Movies that at 30 I won’t watch.
I wasn’t going to church hardly at all, and then we were about to move, and I was really excited about it, for the most part.
A few months before that big move my sister and I were in a car accident. She was taking me to the airport, I was going to be meeting my parents to check out the new city. The night before I was on msn, my mom was praying for protection for us, I wasn’t listening, just chatting on msn or some other chat line, probably lying about my age (don’t do this, girls, in fact don’t chat online with people you don’t know).
The Wake Up Call
There was a storm the morning Michelle and I left for the airport. We hit black ice, glass was everywhere, cappuccino was in my hair, the trunk was in the back seat. I must have blacked out for a second.
The car was totalled, my sister had a broken collar bone, and I had whiplash. Given the state of the car, it was a miracle we weren’t in worse shape.
They made me lay on a back board and ride in an ambulance… when I got off the back board hours later, the sugar from the cappuccino made my hair go from pretty, strait, and chic, to 1970’s fro.
I can still hear Michelle laughing… are you reading this Michelle? You’re laughing, aren’t you?
You know why this was a wake up call? Because at one point I would have called on Jesus the moment the fish tailing of the car started. But I didn’t call on Him. I didn’t think of Him until much later, even though He was there, He was protecting us. Thank you Jesus. I realized that I didn’t have that relationship, that first instinct to call out to Him, and I knew something had to change.
So a few months later we moved. And this church – my church still today – has powerful praise and worship. I love music, so I loved it. The presence of God was so strong in that place… still is.
The Lord started speaking to me about the things I was allowing to influence me… or rather, I started to listen. And slowly, I got rid of things, changed what I was watching and listening to, and fell in love with Jesus more than ever before.
Most people wouldn’t have known what was going on inside of me in those mid teen years. I’m thankful for my parents, who knew most of what I was going through, chose their battles, and prayed me through.
To some of you, my story doesn’t seem like anything to you. But I was tore up inside. I wasn’t happy, I was angry, hurt, afraid and felt very alone.
I was vulnerable.
Last night as I was a back up vocal on our worship team, as I have been for the past 14 years or so (what?? Has it been that long?) it came to mind how being a part of this team, and simply worshipping the Lord, rescued me. I can’t remember how long after the move, but it wasn’t long and I was singing on the youth team. I just loved worshipping the Lord.
But you know what? There are still up and downs. At 17 I remember going through things, and thought some of the dumbest things. Like thinking that I just wanted to know what it was like to get out there and go partying, be with that crowd. I think a lot of Christian kids growing up in the church think that. Don’t buy into that lie!
Thankfully I had too much of the fear of God at this point to go party and then get up on that stage with the team and sing. Besides, I knew I would be found out, there just were too many people around that listened to God. So partying would have to be pretty deliberate – I would have to go to our worship pastor to quit the team, and then find someone to invite me to their party (ha!). Not to mention, I didn’t want to quit.
In the end, I never did go partying (thank you Jesus). The fear of God won out.
So as I was singing “to worship You I live” last night I happened to look at the faces of people worshipping. Faces that haven’t been there long – some of them saved only in the last year or two. The presence of God was so sweet, and people were worshipping, you could see their passion for Jesus on their faces. I had to pull my mic away a couple of times as emotion caught in my throat.
Side note, I’ve turned into a bit of a cryer lately. It’s a bit embarrassing. Everything makes me tear up in the past few weeks… or months… seriously. But the presence of God does that sometimes, doesn’t it?
Praise and worship has pulled me through a lot of hard times in my life. Isn’t it interesting how music can play on our emotions? How it can make a part in a movie so intense and you know something crazy is about to happen, or something sad?
God loves music, it was made for worshipping Him.
But this post is not just about my story, it’s not even just about praise and worship.
At 16/17 years old I got involved in my church, and refocused on the Lord. I was on the worship team, helped in the nursery, in fact I just loved helping wherever they would let me. I went from using work as an excuse to not go to church, to being the employee who begged employers to give me time off every Sunday (or at least only schedule me in the afternoon) and any other time services were on. I was so hungry for God.
But you know what? Emotions happen. Life happens. Sometimes you just don’t feel like getting to church, right? Doesn’t matter how great of a church you have, sometimes you’re tired, sick, or someone invites you to do something. Of course there’s time for going away for vacation or maybe you genuinely have to work sometimes, but you know what I’m talking about.
For me, being involved in my church was a lifeline. I encourage you – challenge you even – don’t just attend your church, get involved! Pouring out is one of the best ways to get your eyes off your own circumstances. Be a blessing where you’re planted.
If you are struggling, call on Jesus. Get praise and worship on. Find a Bible believing Spirit filled Church. Here’s a great chapter from the book of Proverbs to encourage you.
Check out my worship playlist for some great songs to get you started.
Proverbs 3 NKJV (Emphasis added)
My son, do not forget my law,
But let your heart keep my commands;
For length of days and long life
And peace they will add to you.
Let not mercy and truth forsake you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart,
And so find favor and high esteem
In the sight of God and man.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and depart from evil.
It will be health to your flesh,
And strength to your bones.
Honour the Lord with your possessions,
And with the firstfruits of all your increase;
So your barns will be filled with plenty,
And your vats will overflow with new wine.
My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor detest His correction;
For whom the Lord loves He corrects,
Just as a father the son in whom he delights.
Happy is the man who finds wisdom,
And the man who gains understanding;
For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver,
And her gain than fine gold.
She is more precious than rubies,
And all the things you may desire cannot compare with her.
Length of days is in her right hand,
In her left hand riches and honour.
Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
And all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her,
And happy are all who retain her.
The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;
By understanding He established the heavens;
By His knowledge the depths were broken up,
And clouds drop down the dew.
My son, let them not depart from your eyes—
Keep sound wisdom and discretion;
So they will be life to your soul
And grace to your neck.
Then you will walk safely in your way,
And your foot will not stumble.
When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.
Do not be afraid of sudden terror,
Nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes;
For the Lord will be your confidence,
And will keep your foot from being caught.
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
When it is in the power of your hand to do so.
Do not say to your neighbor,
“Go, and come back,
And tomorrow I will give it,”
When you have it with you.
Do not devise evil against your neighbor,
For he dwells by you for safety’s sake.
Do not strive with a man without cause,
If he has done you no harm.
Do not envy the oppressor,
And choose none of his ways;
For the perverse person is an abomination to the Lord,
But His secret counsel is with the upright.
The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked,
But He blesses the home of the just.
Surely He scorns the scornful,
But gives grace to the humble.
The wise shall inherit glory,
But shame shall be the legacy of fools.